Thoughts always inform actions; if we can help youngsters see individuals instead of differences, there’s hope.

WHAT IF EVERYBODY THOUGHT THAT?

From the What If Everybody? series

Thinking mean-spirited thoughts can be just as damaging as saying them out loud.

Javernick and Madden pair up once again (What If Everybody Did That?, 2010 and What If Everybody Said That?, 2018), this time to address bullying in a school setting. One hopes that all schools are diverse with regard to both culture and ability, but it can be difficult to help students see beyond differences. Javernick poses scenarios in which children exhibit varying physical disabilities, learning disabilities, medical conditions, and more. A group of children is often depicted scrutinizing one (four taller kids in gym class look to a shorter one, thinking, “He’s too little to play basketball” and “He’ll NEVER get that ball in the hoop”) as the titular phrase asks, “What if EVERYBODY thought that?” The following spread reads, “They might be wrong” as vignettes show the tiny tot zipping around everyone and scoring. If one sees someone using a wheelchair and automatically thinks, “Too bad she can’t be in the relay race”—well, “they might be wrong.” The (literal) flipside offered to each scenario teaches children to be aware of these automatic assumptions and hopefully change perceptions. Madden’s mixed-media illustrations show a diverse array of characters and have intentional, positive messages hidden within, sometimes scratched in chalk on the ground or hanging up in a frame on a classroom wall.

Thoughts always inform actions; if we can help youngsters see individuals instead of differences, there’s hope. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9137-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Despite the name recognition of the author and relevance of the story, sweet yet inconsequential.

I COLOR MYSELF DIFFERENT

A debut picture book from the NFL quarterback who took a knee during the national anthem.

Kaepernick speaks directly to children about growing up Black in a White family. The story focuses on one incident: When he shares a drawing of his adoptive family with his class, other students ask why he’s the only brown-skinned one. But with reassurance from his mother, young Colin realizes he should take pride in his identity. Although he says, “I don’t know too many kids who look like me,” the bland, somewhat idealized illustrations show a classroom with children with a variety of skin tones, and the teacher is Black. The story includes a rather simplistic explanation of what it means to be adopted: “Ever since Mom wrapped me in that warm hug, I knew having brown skin and being adopted made me special.” Kaepernick adds, “I have brown eyes, a brown nose, and brown hands...just like the people who inspire, create, lead, and change the world.” The accompanying illustration depicts nine African American historical figures, including athletes famous for taking political stands: Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who raised their fists at the 1968 Olympics, and Muhammad Ali, as well as Huey Newton, Toni Morrison, Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Malcolm X. The historical roles of these individuals are explained in a brief addendum. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Despite the name recognition of the author and relevance of the story, sweet yet inconsequential. (“letter to the reader”) (Picture-book biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-78962-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2022

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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